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TED 如何利用有限的收入,来过有质感的生活? [复制链接]

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在线jenny
 

You know me. I am in your friendship circle hidden in plain sight. My clothes are still impeccable -- bought in the good years when I was still making money. To look at me you would not know that my electricity was cut off last week for nonpayment, or that I meet the eligibility requirements for food stamps. But if you paid attention, you would see that sadness in my eyes -- hear that hint of fear in my otherwise self-assured voice.
These days I'm buying the $1.99 trial-size jug of Tide to make ends meet. I bet you didn't know laundry detergent came in that size. You invite me to the same expensive restaurants the two of us have always enjoyed, but I order mineral water now with a twist of lemon, not the 12-dollar glass of chardonnay. I am frugal in my menu choices. Meticulous, I count every penny in my head. I demur dividing the table bill evenly to cover desserts and designer coffees and second and third glasses of wine I did not consume.
I am tired of trying to fake appearances. A friend told me that I'm broke not poor, and there is a difference. I live without cable, my gym membership and nail appointments. I've discovered I can do my own hair. There is no retirement savings, no nest egg. I exhausted that long ago. There is no expensive condo to draw equity and no husband to back me up. Months of slow pay and no pay have decimated my credit. Bill collectors call constantly, reading verbatim from a script before expressing polite sympathy for my plight and then demanding payment arrangements I can't possibly meet. Friends wonder privately how someone so well educated could be in economic free fall.
I'm still as talented as ever and smart as a whip, but work is sketchy now, mostly on and off consulting gigs. At 55 I've learned how to fake cheeriness, but there are not many opportunities for work anymore. I don't remember exactly when it stopped, but I cannot deny now having entered the uncertain world of formerly and used to be. I'm not sure anymore where I belong. What I do know is that dozens of online job applications seem to just disappear into a black hole. I'm wondering what is to become of me. So far my health has held up, but my body aches -- or is it my spirit? Homeless women used to be invisible to me but I appraise them now with curious eyes, wondering if their stories started like mine.
I wrote this piece a year ago. It's a composite of my story and other women I know. I wrote it because I was tired of pretending I was all right when I wasn't. I was tired of faking normal. I wasn't seeing myself in the popular press. Nobody I knew was traveling the world or buying a condo in Costa Rica. Very few of my friends had set aside the 15 to 20 percent experts tell us we need to maintain our standard of living in retirement. My friends, many in their 50s and 60s, were looking at a downward mobility, a work-for-life proposition, just a job loss, medical diagnosis or divorce away from insolvency. We may not have hit rock bottom, but many of us saw a sequence of events where rock bottom was possible for the first time.
And the truth is, it really doesn't take much. The median household in the US only has enough savings to replace one month of income. Forty-seven percent of us cannot pull together 400 dollars to deal with an emergency. That's almost half of us. A major car repair and we're standing on the abyss. You wouldn't know it to look around you -- I'm not the only one in this situation. There are people in this room who are in the same predicament, and if it's not you, it is your parents or your sister or maybe your best friend. We get good at faking normal. Shame keeps us silent and siloed. When I first decided I was going to come out with my story, I did a website and a friend noticed that there were no photos of me -- it was all kind of cartoons like this. Even as I was coming out, I was still hiding.
We live in a world where success is defined by income. When you say that you have money problems, you're announcing pretty much that you're a loser. When you're a graduate of Harvard Business School as I am, you're some kind of double loser.
We boomers hear a lot about how we have underfunded our retirement; how it's all our fault. Why on earth would we draw down our 401(k) plan to cover the shortfall on our mother-in-law's nursing home care, or to pay for our kid's tuition, or just to survive? We're accused of being poor planners and deadbeats -- all that money we spent on lattes and bottled water. To shame and blame is so deliciously tempting. Many of us don't even wait for others to do it we're so busy doing it to ourselves. I say let's own our part: we all could have saved more. I know I could have saved more, and if you were to rifle through my life over the last 30 years, you would see more than one dumb thing I have done financially. I can't change that now and neither can you, but let's not mix up individual, isolated behavior with the systemic factors that have caused a 7.7-trillion-dollar retirement income gap.
Millions of boomer-age Americans did not land here because of too many trips to Starbucks. We spent the last three decades dealing with flat and falling wages and disappearing pensions and through-the-roof cost on housing and health care and education. It used to not be like this. We all remember the three-legged retirement income stool which had the savings and pension and social security. Well, that stool has gone wobbly.
Take savings -- what savings? For many families, there's just nothing left to save after the bills have been paid. The pension leg of the stool has also gone wobbly. We can remember when many people had pensions. Today only 13 percent of American workers are employed by companies that offer them. So what did we get instead? We got 401(k)-type plans and suddenly responsibility for retirement planning got shifted from our companies to us. We got the reigns but we also got the risk, and it turns out that millions of us just aren't that good at voluntarily investing over 40 years. Millions of us just aren't that good at managing market risk. And really the numbers tell the story. Half of all American households have no retirement savings at all. That would be zero. No 401(k), no IRA, not a dime. Among 55-to-64-year-olds who do have a retirement account, the median value of that account is 104,000 dollars. Now, 104,000 dollars does sound better than zero, but as an annuity, it generates about 300 dollars. I don't have to tell you that you can't live on that.
With savings down, pensions becoming a relic of the past and 401(k) plans failing millions of Americans, many near-retirees are dependent on social security as their retirement plan. But here's the problem. Social security was never supposed to be the retirement plan. It's not nearly enough. At best it replaces something like 40 percent of your pre-retirement income.
Things have changed a lot from when social security was introduced back in 1935. Then, a 21-year-old male had a 50 percent chance of living until he was 65. So he retired at 60, did a little fishing, kissed his grandkids, got his gold watch -- he'd be dead within five years of receiving benefits. That's not the pattern today. If you're in your late 50s and in good health, you're going to live easily another 20 or 25 years. That's a really long time to make ends meet if you are broke.
So what's the play if you've landed here and you're 50 or 55 or 60? What's the play if you don't want to land here and you're 22 or 32? Here's what I've learned from my own experience. The cavalry's not coming. There is no big rescue, no prince charming, no big bailout in the works. To have a shot at something other than being old and poor in America, we're going to have to save ourselves and each other. I've had to come out of the shadows, stand here openly, and I'm inviting you to do so as well. I'm not going to tell you that it's not easy. I ventured though to tell my story because I thought it would make it a little easier for people to tell theirs. I think it's only through our strength in numbers that we can begin to change the national "la-la" conversation that we are having on this retirement crisis. With so many of us shell-shocked and adrift about what has happened to us, we're going to have to build up from the grassroots, forming what I think are resilience circles. These are small groups of people coming together to talk about what has happened to them, to share resources and information and to begin to figure out a way forward. I believe from this base that we can find our voices again and sound the alarm -- start pushing our institutions and policymakers to go hard on this retirement crisis with the urgency it deserves.
In the meantime -- and there is an "in the meantime" -- we're going to have to adopt a live-low-to-the-ground mindset, drastically cutting back on our expenses. And I don't mean just living within our means. A lot of people are already doing that. What is called for now is to, in a much deeper way, ask ourselves what it really means to live a life that is not defined by things. I call it "smalling up." Smalling up is figuring out what you really need to feel contented and grounded. I have a friend who drives really beat-up, raggedy cars, but he will scrimp and save 15,000 dollars at one point to buy a flute because music is what really matters to him. He smalled up.
I've had to also let go of magical thinking -- this idea that if I just was patient enough and tightened my belt that things would go back to normal. If I just sent in one more CV or applied to one more job online or attended one more networking event that surely I'd get the kind of job I was used to having. Surely things would return to normal. The truth is I'm not going back and neither are you. The normal that we knew is over. In this new place that we are, we're going to be asked to do things that we don't want to do. We're going to be asked to take assignments that we think are beneath our station and our talent and our skill. I have had to get off my throne. Last year, a good friend of mine asked me if I would help her with some organization work. I assumed she meant community organizing along the lines of what President Obama did in Chicago. She meant organizing somebody's closet. I said, "I'm not doing that." She said, "Get off your throne. Money is green."
It's not easy being part of the advance team that is ushering in this new era of work and living. First is always hardest. First is before there are networks and pathways and role models ... before there are policies and ways to show us how to go forward. We're in the middle of a seismic shift, and we're going to have to find bridgework to get us through. Bridgework is what we do in the meantime; bridgework is what we do while we're trying to figure out what is next. Bridgework is also letting go of this notion that our worth and our value depend on our income and our titles and our jobs. Bridgework can look crazy or cool depending on how you were rolling when your personal financial crisis hit. I have friends with PhDs who are working at the Container Store or driving Uber or Lyft, and then I have other friends who are partnering with other boomers and doing really cool entrepreneurial ventures. Bridgework doesn't mean that we don't want to build on our past careers, that we don't want meaningful work. We do. Bridgework is what we do in the meantime while we're figuring out what is next.
I've also learned to think strategy not failure when I'm sort of processing all these things that I don't want to do. And I say that that's an approach that I would invite you to consider as well.
So if you need to move in with your brother to make ends meet, call him. If you need to take in a boarder to help you pay your mortgage or pay your rent, do it. If you need to get food stamps, get the darn food stamps. AARP says only a third of older adults who are eligible actually get them. Do what you need to do to go another round. Know that there are millions of us. Come out of the shadows. Cut back, small up; think strategy, not failure; get off your throne and find the bridgework to get your through the lean times.


As a country, we have achieved longevity, investing billions of dollars in the diagnosis, treatment and management of disease. It's not enough to just live a long time. We want to live well. We haven't invested nearly as much in the physical infrastructure to ensure that that happens. We need now a new way of thinking about what it means to be old in America. And we need guidance and ideas about how to live a richly textured life on a much more modest income.


So I am calling on change agents and social entrepreneurs, artists and elders and impact investors. I'm calling on developers and disrupters of the status quo. We need you to help us imagine how to invest in the services and products and infrastructure that will support our dignity, our independence and our well-being in these many, many decades that we're going to live.


My journey has taken me from a place of fear and shame to one of humility and understanding. I'm ready now to link shields with others, to fight this fight, and I'm inviting you to join me.


Thank you.
(Applause)


你认识我。我就藏在你朋友圈中不显眼的地方。我的衣着无可挑剔——它们是我在还会赚钱的那段黄金岁月所买下的。光看着我,你不会知道我上周已经因为没缴电费被断电,也不会知道我已经符合可以领食物券的条件了。但若你有留意,你会看到我眼中的悲伤——在我原本自信的声音中听到些许的恐惧。


这些日子,我会买1.99美元的汰渍洗衣精试用罐,让收支能平衡。我打赌你不知道洗衣精还有那种大小的包装。你邀请我到同一间昂贵的餐厅,我们两个人一向很享受在那里用餐,但我现在会点矿泉水加上螺旋柠檬皮,而不是一杯要价12美元的白葡萄酒。点餐时我尽量少花钱。我在脑中小心翼翼地计算着每一分钱。我反对平分账单,因为账单里头包含了甜点、特调咖啡,及第二和第三杯红酒,都不是我消费的。

我好厌倦要在表面上作假。朋友告诉我,我是破产而非贫穷,两者是有差别的。我的生活中没有有线电视、健身房会籍,及美甲的预约。我发现我可以自己做头发。没有退休存款,没有储蓄金。我很早以前就把它花光了。没有昂贵的公寓可以贷款变现,也没有丈夫可以倚靠。数个月来账单不是迟缴就是没缴,让我的信用受到重挫。催帐的人常常打电话来,照本宣科地念着催款稿后,才礼貌性地对我的困境表示同情,接着要求我履行无法如期偿付的还款计划。朋友们私下纳闷着,我受过这么好的教育,怎么可能在经济上摔得这么惨。

我还是一样有才华、一样机敏,但工作有一餐没一餐,大部分是时有时无的咨询案件。在55岁时,我学会了假装开心,但工作机会已经不多了。我无法明确记得是何时停止的,但我无法否认我已经进入了以前曾经历过的不稳定、无常的情况中了。我再也不确定我的归属在哪里。我确切知道的是,数十张在线工作应征申请表似乎都石沉大海。我很纳闷我之后会变成什么样子。目前我的健康还过得去,但我身体的疼痛——还是其实是心灵的痛?我以前都看不见无家可归的女性,但现在我会用好奇的目光来揣度她们,纳闷她们故事的一开始是否也和我一样。

我一年前写了这篇作品。它包含了我的故事以及我认识的其他女性。我之所以写下它是因为我厌倦了当我失意落魄时还要假装过得不错。我厌倦了假装一切安好如常。我没有在主流新闻中看见我自己。我不认识任何环游世界的人或在哥斯达黎加买公寓的人。几乎没有朋友听从专家的建议,将收入的15%到20%存下来,以便在退休后能维持我们既有的生活水平。我许多朋友都已经五、六十岁了,他们要面临的是行动力下降,考虑是否要终身工作,只要一次失业、一次医疗诊断或一次离婚,就会破产。我们可能还没有跌到谷底,但我们当中许多人都经历了一连串的事件,让他们第一次觉得,跌到谷底是有可能的。

事实是,要跌到谷底并不难。美国的一般家庭存款只足够代替一个月的收入。我们当中有47%的人无法凑出400美元来处理紧急事件。那几乎是一半的人了。若车子需要一次大翻修我们就已站在深渊边缘了。看看你四周,你不会知道——我并不是唯一处在这种情况的人。在这间房间中也有人和我有相同的困境,如果不是你,也可能是你的父母、你的姐妹或你最好的朋友。我们都很擅长假装一切安好。羞耻感让我们保持沉默和孤立。当我最初决定要出来讲述我的故事时,我设了一个网站,一个朋友注意到网站上没有我的照片——上面都是像这样的漫画。即使我站出来了,我也还在躲藏。

在我们所居住的世界中,成功是由收入来定义的。当你说你有金钱方面的问题时,你差不多就等于是宣布你是个失败者了。当你跟我一样是哈佛商学院的毕业生,你就是某种双重失败者。

我们这些婴儿潮出生的人,常听到我们所提拨的退休金不足,说错全都在我们。到底为什么要提领我们401(k)退休福利计划的钱,去补足我们亲家母在养老院的照护赤字,或是支付我们孩子的学费,或只是用来生存?我们被指控是很不懂规划的人及游手好闲的人——所有的钱都花在拿铁和瓶装水上。羞辱和责怪别人是如此诱人。许多人甚至还没等别人这么做,就自己先自责起来了。我认为大家应各自反省:我们原本可以存更多钱。我知道我本来可以存更多,如果你能快速看我过去三十年的人生,你就会看到我在财务上做的蠢事不只一桩。我现在无法改变过去,你也不能,但不要把个别、独立的行为和造成退休金7.7兆美元缺口的系统因子搞混。

美国数百万名婴儿潮的人并不是因为太常去星巴克而落到这步田地。过去三十年间,我们面临着通膨、下跌的薪资、消失的退休金,以及房价、医疗保健和教育费用的飙升飞涨。以前并不是这个样子的。我们都还记得退休收入的三脚凳,它有储蓄、退休金和社会福利。而那张凳子开始晃动了。

比如储蓄——什么储蓄?对许多家庭来说,付完账单就已无余钱可供储蓄了。凳子的「退休金」那只脚也开始晃动。我们还记得以前很多人有退休金。现今美国只有13%的工作者受雇于会支付他们退休金的公司。那我们反而得到什么?我们得到了401(k)的退休福利计划,还突然把退休计划的责任从公司移转到我们个人身上。我们得到了支配权,但也得承担风险,结果发现我们有数百万人在40年间并非那么擅长做自主性投资。我们有数百万人就是不那么擅长管理市场风险。真的,数字会说话。半数的美国家庭完全没有退休储蓄。那就是0存款。没有401(k)退休福利计划、没有个人退休账户,一分钱都没有。在55到64岁之间确实有退休账户的人口中,存款的中位数是104,000美元。104,000美元听起来的确比0美元更好。但作为退休年金,它的月领金额大约是300美元。不用我说,你们也知道这钱不够生活。

随着储蓄下降,退休金已经名存实亡,而401(k)退休福利计划让数百万的美国人失望了,许多快退休的人要仰赖社会福利来当他们的退休计划。但问题来了。社会福利从来就不应该被当作退休计划。它不够,且还差得远。它顶多能提供你退休前40%薪资的金额。

从1935年社会福利开始施行之后,世事发生了许多变化。当年,21岁的男性有50%的机率可以活到65岁。所以他60岁会退休,去钓钓鱼,亲亲他的孙子孙女,买一只金表——在领了五年的福利金之后,他就会死亡了。现今的模式不是这样的。如果你快要60岁且健康状况不错,你很容易可以再活个20到25年。如果这时你破产了,你将有漫漫长路要去维持收支平衡。

所以,如果你是在50、55或60岁遇到这种情况,该怎么做?如果你现在是22或32岁,不想沦落到这地步,又该怎么做呢?以下是我从自身经验学到的。没有救兵会来救你。没有什么大救援,没有什么白马王子,也没有大型财务救济计划。在美国,若想要有机会脱离又老又穷的状态,我们就得要拯救自己和彼此。我已从阴影底下走出来,公开站在这里,我也邀请各位这么做。我不会告诉你们这不容易。我冒险说出我的故事是因为我认为这样做能让大家较容易说出自己的故事。我想也只能靠群聚众人之力,我们才能开始改变国家针对这个退休危机和我们所进行的「不切实际」对谈。鉴于我们对于所经历过的事都已感到身心俱疲和无所适从,因此我们得从根本开始建立起,形成我心中的恢复圈。恢复圈就是由人们组成的小群体,聚在一起谈论发生在他们身上的事,分享资源和信息并开始找出能向前行的方法。我相信在这个基础之上,我们就能再次为自己发声并敲响警钟——开始督促我们的机构和政策制定者,努力处理这个具急迫性的退休危机。

同时——还有个「同时」——我们得要有节俭度日的心态,大大缩减我们的开销。我的意思并不只是量入为出。很多人已经那么做了。在更深层的意义上,现在需要做的,是要问问我们自己,摆脱物质束缚的人生真谛为何。我称它是「简约且具质感」。简质的生活就是要找出让自己感到真正满足和踏实的必要需求。我有个朋友开着一台破铜烂铁的车,但他省吃俭用,直到存够了15,000美元就去买一支长笛,因为音乐对他来说才是真正重要的。他过着简约却具质感的生活。

我也得抛开不切实际的想法——以为如果我能有足够的耐心并束紧腰带,一切就会回到以前的常态。如果我再寄出一份简历表,或是再上网多申请一个工作,或是再去参加一场人脉交流的活动,那我肯定就可以找到以前做的那种工作。一切肯定就会回归常轨。事实是我回不去了,你们也一样。我们所知道的正常已经结束了。在我们现在所处的新阶段,我们会被要求做我们不想做的事。要去接受那些我们认为以我们的地位、才能和技艺来讲,实在是大材小用的工作。我得要离开我的宝座,放下身段。去年,我的一位好友问我能不能帮她做些组织、筹划的工作。我以为她指的是小区组织,就像欧巴马总统在芝加哥做的一样。结果她指的是整理某人的储藏室。我说:「我不做那种事。」她说:「放下你的身段,钱是『绿色』的。」

成为先遣队的一员要开创出新时代的工作和生活方式并不容易。万事起头难。因为是最先,所以还没有支持网络、通路以及典范……还没有政策,也没有方法能告诉我们如何向前行。我们正处在一个重大改变当中,我们得要找到度过难关的方法。这段时间我们所做的就是架桥工程;当我们试图在想出下一步时,这段过渡期我们所做的事就是架桥工程。架桥工程也是要屏除掉我们的价值是取决于我们的收入、头衔及工作的谬误。架桥工程看起来可能很疯狂、也可能很酷,就看当你个人的财务危机来袭时,你要如何应对。我有些有博士学位的友人在连锁大卖场工作或是开优步、利夫特,也有其他朋友和婴儿潮的人,合伙做了很酷的创业投资。进行架桥工程并不表示我们不想要建基在我们过去的职涯之上,也不表示我们不想要做有意义的工作。我们当然想要!架桥工程是在我们试图找出下一步该如何走时,同时间所要做的事。

我也学会了当我在处理这些我不想做的事情时,要认为这是权宜性的策略而非意味着失败。我也希望能邀请各位考虑一下这个方法。

如果你得要搬去和你的兄弟一起住来让收支平衡,就打电话给他。如果你得要分租房间来支付你的贷款或支付你的房租,就去做。如果你需要领食物券,就去领那天杀的食物券。美国退休人员协会说,只有1/3符合领食物券的长者会去领取。做你必须要做的,让你能再撑一回合。要知道还有数百万像我们这样的人。走出阴影。缩衣节食,过简质的生活;把这当做是策略,而非失败;放下你的身段,找到过渡期的解决方案让你能撑过拮据的日子。

我们这个国家已经达成了长寿的目标,投资数十亿美元在诊断、治疗和管理疾病。光是活得久还不够。我们也想要活得好。我们还没有投资同等的钱去做实体的基础设施来确保我们能活得好。现在我们需要一种新的思考方式,想想在美国变老的意义为何。我们需要指引和建议,让大家知道如何运用适中的收入来过具质感的生活。

所以,我要号召改革人士社会上的企业家、艺术家和年长者们,还有具影响力的投资者们。我要号召发展者和现况改变者。我需要你们来协助我们,设想如何在服务、产品以及基础设施上来投资,以维护我们的尊严、独立性以及我们的福祉,让我们能在接下来的几十年都能活得更好。

我的旅程已经把我从心存恐惧和羞耻带到了谦卑和理解的境界。现在我已经准备好要和其他人连手抵御,要打这场仗,我也邀请各位加入我。

谢谢。
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